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Making the Best Use of Learning Objectives for Training Evaluation

How can you evaluate the participants of your online course? What does it take to design good assessments for your e-learning course? Well, a sure-shot way is to develop assessments based on the learning objectives of the course.

Why should assessments and learning objectives be aligned?

The proper alignment of assessments and learning objectives facilitates measurement of the effectiveness of your online course, by helping you determine whether your learners are able to do what they are expected after completing the course. For instance, the objective of your e-learning course is to enable your people create an invoice using SAP, within 5 minutes. The learners are asked to execute the steps involved in creating the invoice in a simulated environment, which can be used to determine whether they are able to perform the task within the specified time period.

How to frame assessments based on learning objectives?

Before we proceed further, it is important to have a good idea of how learning objectives are framed. Prof. Benjamin Bloom, an American psychologist, proposed six levels of learning (later revised by Dr. Lorin Anderson), viz. remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. Here is a brief overview of what learners are expected to do at each level.

Level What learners are expected to do
Remembering Recall and recognize the information presented to them
Understanding Understand the meaning of the information and state it in their own words
Applying Use the information presented in the training program in their jobs
Analyzing Analyze the information acquired through the training program
Evaluating Evaluate the information acquired to make decisions to solve problems
Creating Use the information to put together diverse elements to create a “new whole”

A learning objective needs to “match” the corresponding level of cognition. For instance, if your online course enables your people recall the guidelines to use social media, you then need to write its learning objectives based on the corresponding level of cognition i.e. remembering. To know more, check out the informative eBook Fundamentals of Learning Objectives in Training Design – Overview.

Here is a framework to assess your people based on the learning objectives at each of the six levels.

Level How you can assess
Remember Fill in the blanks, multiple-choice questions (MCQs), and diagrams that need to be labeled, which require the learner to recall and/or revise information
Understand Questions that require learners to summarize the information acquired, assignments that involve classification of cases, elements, events, etc., using established criteria, and problems that require learners to identify examples of concepts or principles
Apply Problem-based learning elements such as scenarios where learners need to provide the right response and simulations that require learners to perform procedures
Analyze Business case studies where learners are required to determine how various elements of a business function or interact
Evaluate Scenarios and case studies where learners are required to judge or critique performances or products against set criteria
Create Business games and what-if scenarios where learners need to formulate a new solution to business needs

Proper alignment of online assessments with learning objectives goes a long way in evaluating the effectiveness of e-learning courses. There are six levels of cognition, viz. remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating, at which learning objectives can be set. You need to ensure your online learning assessments correspond to the level of cognition at which the learning objective is framed. For more on developing online learning assessments, download the webinar How to Design Effective Assessments for Exceptional E-learning. In my next blog, we will see how to use the learning objectives of an online sales training program to evaluate its participants. So, stay tuned.

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